DEARBORN, Mich. – AlTayeb in Dearborn and Garden City is celebrating national attention even as so many businesses struggle in the age of COVID.
The New York Times released a list of the 50 most vibrant and delicious restaurants across the country Tuesday. The only restaurant that’s from Michigan is AlTayeb.
Making that list was a surprise to the family who owns and runs the restaurant.
Mirna Hamade described the moment they got the news. “They just said we came in a few times. We tried your food, we really like it and we want to feature you.”
She said her family couldn’t be happier.
“It’s just so exciting, it’s a big honor, beyond honor, that we’ve made it on that list. We were so focused on serving, preparing good food and serving the people but we did not have that in plan but then when it happened,” said Hamade.
It wasn’t expected because years ago when they moved from Lebanon, opening a restaurant wasn’t part of their plan.
“When we first moved here, we always tried to think ‘Where are we going to eat? On Sunday, what are we going to eat?’”
They opened their first location in Garden City in 2017 with a weekend breakfast menu. The menu and restaurant as a whole took off and in February 2020 they opened a Dearborn location. Then the unthinkable happened: the pandemic.
“It was not that easy for us,” she said.
Business has since picked up.
AlTayeb offers homemade dishes with fresh ingredients but Hamade believes it is the experience they provide that sets them apart and earned them a spot on New York Time’s list.
“People come in and they find some kind of a link to their heritage and people from other cultures, they just like the food. It is something new that they’re trying.”
It’s the same experience Mostafa Chahin was eager to have when he sat down in the restaurant for the very first time.
“As soon as we came in here I just started smelling how good the food is,” said Chahin.
He and his mom live in Phoenix but are visiting Michigan to see his sister. All three are originally from Lebanon.
“There’s just a lot of Middle Eastern food here. I miss back home and so I’m like why not,” he said.
They got into town Wednesday and AlTayeb was first on everyone’s agenda. Thursday was his sister, Fatme’s first time at the restaurant too.
“We ordered every plate from each dish,” she said.
Hamade said it warms her heart to see people enjoying the food, including those food critics who awarded the restaurant a spot on the list.
“All the hard work, all the hours we all put in into the two locations, it’s just paying off at the end.”
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